Jeff Francoeur drives Atlanta's new "Golden Boy" to the ballpark

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Francoeur SI cover.jpgDon’t tell Craig, but according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Jeff Francoeur drove 20-year-old phenom Jason Heyward to Citi Field on Friday night.

As O’Brien relays, Francoeur originally intended to pick up old chum Brian McCann, but when he arrived at the Manhattan hotel where the Braves were staying, Chipper Jones and Heyward also jumped in the car.

“He probably said three words the whole way over,” said Francoeur,
smiling. “He’s just sitting there. But he’s having fun. That’s the kind
of thing that’s going to allow him to have success and not go through
the rollercoaster ride that I went through. He’s very, very mature for
his age. It’s incredible.”

Looks like a little bit of Francoeur rubbed off on Heyward, as he struck out three times in four at-bats on Friday night. Whatever it takes.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.